Stepping into Creativity
“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
I've never thought of myself as creative. Industrious...yes, capable...absolutely, even a bit "outside the box" in the way I do things. But not creative. "Creative" is a word reserved for artists and interior decorators - those who give cause for the eyes and heart to feast. The word has never been one I would use to describe myself. However, I was recently given cause to contemplate moving forward more creatively.
Enjoying the activities of a summer festival, I decided to have a little henna done. I like the natural feel of henna. Once applied, it stains the skin in a semi-permanent way. If done well, the design will last a few days to a few weeks. I usually choose a design that has spiritual meaning for me and allow that design to inspire my study of some new concept. The impermanence of henna gives me enough time for spiritual reflection, while still allowing me to move on to something else fairly quickly. These are short periods of deep study and have proven very valuable. In this case, I wasn't sure what the design would be but I knew something would come to me.
As often happens, the perfect person appeared - a lovely artist who offered to apply the henna in exchange for a donation to a scholarship fund. Score! I get art - and I get to do something good at the same time. How do you say no to that?! She suggested I check in with her the next day when we could relax, enjoy the time together, and get to know each other. I agreed.
When the time came, I still had no idea what design I wanted. Before I could address that issue, the artist smiled at me kindly and asked if she could henna my foot, explaining that she had a design she really wanted to use. Spontaneously, I heard the words "of course" fall out of my mouth. After all, it was something she was doing for a good cause and she should get some joy out of it! I have to admit that I felt a little disappointed that the significance of this experience might be lost. (We tell ourselves such interesting stories, don't we?)
The design was complex and took quite a while to apply. I had not considered that I would need to be still, not only for the artist to complete the design but long enough for that design, at the flex point of my ankle, to dry. We started about 1pm and I stood up to walk about 3 hours later. The majority of that time, I simply sat and waited. I hadn't planned on the waiting time so I didn't bring a book with me and I was at a festival on a mountaintop so no Facebook scrolling or other electronic time passer was available. I simply waited.
In the waiting, I found time to meditate. I admired the design on my foot and considered my belief that every person I encounter is the face of the Holy expressing itself. If this young woman was the living expression of the Divine, what was her art expressing to me?
Creativity. That's what came to mind. It is something that feels so far outside my existence. In my rather industrial way of living life, I do what I do toward an end purpose. As a speaker, I know some people might think my speaking is creative - but the truth is, I teach to a "point." There is something I feel directed to share and I teach with the intention of getting to that point and making that point memorable and accessible. I don't give effort to flowery pontifications. I just speak. I just....
I just write. I just do. I just generate whatever system or process is needed in any situation. I never think of any of this as creative - just ... well.... "just."
This art was gifted to my left foot. The left side of the body is directed by the right side of the brain - the creative side. Interesting. And my foot. Also interesting. This particular festival is always a threshold for me. It's a place where, in alchemical terms, the lead of life's heaviness is released in order for the gold of one's divinity to shine forth. The threshold between those two is transformation. That transformation takes places through a literal series of steps. Every step is both release and invocation.
Now that I have arrived home - my every step calls forth the imagination. I am invited to release what blocks my creativity and to seek the muse that will inspire it. I am called to question what creativity is, where it lives within me, and what I can do with it. I hear the whispers of something fun and exciting ready to be birthed - but do not know its face yet.
This henna is a strong dye and will last another week or so. The fine lines will give way to the bolder aspects as it slowly disappears. In the end, the boldest mark is the heart in the center. How interesting that I have this extended time to reflect on what my heart wants to create.
A long time ago I realized that every occurrence in life is an opportunity for the Divine within each of us to show up and interact in a face-to-face way. Every person, every happening, every interaction is the Holy expressing. Every moment in life is sacramental. Every place in life is hallowed ground. Every shared breath is divine communication. In that moment and this, at that place and this, with that person and with you, the presence of the Divine is ceaseless and whispers sweetly in our ears, beckoning us to greater intimacy. For this, I am grateful.